Sit back and think…
Let’s reset the situation. Grizzlies/Cavs Game seven here in the NBA Finals…The Grizzlies trail 95-93 with 13.8 seconds left to go… and everything has come down to this. This FedExForum crowd has worked to an absolute fevered pitch and now it’s all come down to one possession. Gasol, Randolph, Conley, Lee, and Carter will take the floor for the Grizzlies…Irving, Shumpert, LeBron, Love, and Mozgov for Cleveland. Gasol will inbound. Back screen by Randolph to get Courtney Lee free in the right corner as Conley shakes free and receives the inbound pass. Gasol sets up at the top of the key to screen Irving and try to get a switch…Mozgov jumps out to disrupt the flow of the offense but quickly recovers to front Gasol as he receives the pass on the pick and roll.
Gasol takes a dribble and looks up at the basket. His momentum has taken him to the elbow…his favorite part of the court to shoot. Everyone knows this…and this series has been no different. As he pulls up to shoot…Mozgofv raises his tree trunks that God gave him as arms to impede Gasol’s line of sight. Additionally, Lebron James has come crashing down to cut down the angle of Gasol’s shot. Options are few. Courtney Lee has set up in the right corner ready to take a three if called on. Z-Bo has set up on the opposite block to prep for any possible offensive rebound and is manhandling Kevin Love. Mike Conley has rolled to the basket, but is pretty well covered.
Amongst all this, Vince Carter has broken free and is now standing beyond the three point line…
Pass from Gasol is on target. Without even taking a dribble…Carter lines up his shot.
The ball leaves his hands…right on line and away from a lunging King James…
Wasn’t this how this was supposed to go?? When Vince Carter signed with the Memphis Grizzlies on July 12th of last year, he was supposed to be the player that put the Grizzlies over the championship hump. Vince would bring the type of veteran leadership and three point shooting that would fix the ills of the Grizzlies perpetually stagnant offense. Just days after losing Mike Miller, last year’s solution to the offense, to the suddenly talent-rich Cleveland Cavaliers, Carter signed a three year deal (sort of) worth nearly four million dollars a season. A bargain…especially for someone who could bring you this.
Sure…he wasn’t the guy who could jump out of the gym or metaphorically kill someone by dunking on them.
But he was a guy who was a willing shooter…not really a chucker…but a crafty veteran who has changed his game to evolve with the changing league as a whole. From the moment he arrived in Memphis, local fans and national writers all took notice…the Grizzlies were for real.
But then Vince missed training camp. It didn’t seem very concerning at the time…Vince has the chops to get by…plus his style of play would be such a natural fit for the Grizzlies offense that there really isn’t much to worry about.
Then he only played sparingly in the preseason. There began some rumblings about his health, some vague rumors about bone spurs in his feet. And the possibility that the Grizzlies training staff had to teach him how to run differently.
Opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves…Grizzlies win and Vince plays…but doesn’t look quite right. He looks like he has cement shoes…like the years of all the training and hard work has finally caught up with him. If this keeps up…he’ll be running like this guy…
This continued for most of the season. Not that there weren’t high water marks.
That dunk on Rudy Gobert.
That block on Dirk.
Going nuclear against Golden State early in the season, and then those threes in the triple overtime game in San Antonio.
Those threes in that wild game against Houston.
But for most of the season we got this:
A lot of red there.
For every highlight we got a 1-8 shooting night where he would take a shot five feet from behind the line with no time left on the shot clock…partially because of the limited flow of the Grizzlies offense and partially because he just could not move.
The post season would not be any better.
Not good. The leadership was there. He was great on television while he was out with an injury. He may be the best guy on the team at working the officials. If there is anyone on the team who can get calls from officials...its Vince. And at least he was out playing the guy he replaced...who can't even get on the floor on a team that has Matthew Dellavedova play considerable minutes.
Those are all positives right???
Truth be told…the Grizzlies were sold damaged goods in the case of Vince Carter. Back in September in the player preview here on GBB the optimism ran high.
Play 25 minutes a game, hit some threes, jam some jams, and splash a couple massive shots in the playoffs.
You never like to think about this, especially not about your childhood heroes, but Carter is old. He was born in the '70s! They didn't have cell phones then! Carter is a nagging injury or two (which he's miraculously avoided his whole career) from being done. The worst-case Vince Carter scenario is that he gets hurt, plays something like half the games, and loses the bulk of his minutes to Quincy Pondexter.
He did get hurt. He took some time off. He was worked in and out of the rotation. And it never really got better. Maybe those nagging injuries finally have stopped the unstoppable force…the Human Highlight Reel…the man, myth, and legend.
So who is to blame for all of these unrequited expectations? Did the game just pass Vince by? Did the Grizzlies medical staff miss out on an important injury before signing VC in the offseason? Did Mark Cuban pull one over on Robert Pera and company???
The answer probably is none of the above. It is hard to blame a guy for being injured all the time. I can’t really blame the Grizzlies for taking a shot at filling a need. It appears as though the Mavericks really wanted to re-sign Vince, but dealing with RFA’s like Chandler Parsons can be tricky, indeed. As an aside, man…could that team have used a calm veteran presence this season or what?
On the season wrap-up edition of GBB Live, our editor Chris Faulkner was asked about his highlight of the season. His answer was simply Vince Carter. He said if you had told sixteen year old Chris that Memphis would have a pro basketball team and that Vince Carter would be on it…he would not have believed you. He called it a absolute joy to watch him play this season..even if our expectations were left unfulfilled.
This is why Vince was brought here…the ever bright light of hope.
The best way I can put this comes from children’s television. If you are the parent of young children, you know that most children’s programming just plain sucks. So the other day my son has my TV remote (always dangerous) and is flipping mindlessly around Netflix and stops on an original program called Pompidou. I know…it sounds like anime…but it’s really a British comedy which is designed at younger children but to hook their parents as well.
It is literally the most inane and asinine program I have ever watched. The characters don’t really talk, they just kind of stammer and stutter in thick British accents. The jokes are dumb, the show looks horrible, and I cannot possibly believe that it took more than one person to write each episode.
And because I can’t stand this program, my son loves it.
So I’m watching this episode with him, rolling my eyes and constantly and praying for the episode to end or the television to burst into flames when this happens.
AND I AM 100% IN. YOU HAD ME AT QUEEN.
Now I'm asking my son..."Hey...let's go watch Pompidou."
So many bloggers and fans and such were so tired of seeing Vince shoot and miss that it got rather nasty towards the end of the season. Vince should just retire. Jordan Adams could have made those shots easily. Maybe he’ll break a leg during a three point shot and he can be taken out back and shot or whatever.
I have no idea what the future holds for Vince carter in a Grizzlies uniform. But maybe next season we will be watching the Grizzlies in a late season game and Vince will break out his Freddie Mercury impression, hit some threes, and make it all worth it.
Only time can tell.